Herzbruch looking to hit ground running at EHL Men’s FINAL4 next week

Uhlenhorst Mülheim flyer Timm Herzbruch is looking to hit the ground running at full force following a tough six-month spell waiting to get back into action.

He picked up a knee injury last August, but is now feeling fresh and ready to go for his club as they look forward to an EHL FINAL4 date with Atlètic Terrassa.

“It feels great to be back on the pitch,” he told the EHL website. “I am excited. When the target gets a bit closer, it is a very good feeling and I am very happy to be back with the team, my friends and hopefully we will have success.

“Regarding the Olympic Games being postponed, due to Covid-19 virus, I had an extra year for my rehab to be prepared the best for my goal of playing in Tokyo 2021. And now I’m back on track, good physically, feeling fit and healthy.“ 

His hope now is to bring his boyhood club to glory and recreate some of the glory days. Between 1988 and 1996, Uhlenhorst were the kings of Europe, winning the Club Champions Cup competition in an incredible nine-year winning streak.

During that time, next week’s opponents Atlèti were so often the nearest rival, meeting in the final in 1989, 90, 91 and 92 before the Spanish side finally got their win in 1998.

Timm was born and raised in a hockey family. Both, his parents and grandparents played hockey. His father used to play for HTC Uhlenhorst as well, and won the German championships 1997 as head coach with the club. 

He was delighted to emulate that outcome in 2018 and then go back-to-back 2019. It was the perfect evolution of a lifetime with the club.

“Since I was three or four, I was either watching or playing hockey by myself at the club. Most weekends, I watched the men’s first team. When I was a younger player watching hockey on a high level was so good for my own development.“

Herzbruch in the 2019 FINAL4 shoot-out against Mannheimer HC. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

“My father was a trainer in my youth until I broke into the first squad. Weekends were full, playing away by myself and watching it. You can call it a ‘hockey-life’ and I am so happy I embraced it, to be part of this way of life.”

During his youth, he was there to witness first-hand the EHL a decade ago on home turf with soon-to-be Olympic gold medalists Thilo Stralkowski and Jan-Philipp Rabente leading the line for Mülheim as they hosted a very rainy ROUND1.

Since then, the club has under-performed to some extent, not making it beyond the KO8 in five attempts, most frustratingly in their most recent appearance in 2019.

Herzbruch was awesome in a 3-2 success over host Oranje-Rood in the KO16 but a couple of injuries and a slow start saw them unable to overhaul German rivals Mannheimer HC in a classic 4-4 contest.

“A missed opportunity, of course. It was very sad we lost to Mannheim in the shoot-out. We put in a very tough performance against Oranje-Rood, one of the best we have played with this team.

“We knew they were so skillful and with so many players operating at a high level; we had to defend well and be efficient on the counter. We did a great job.

“But two days later, we lost to MHC. The first quarter we were 2-0 down and had three important players going off. It left us with only one or two subs to work with.

“We did well considering that but to lose the shoot-out was not a good feeling; it was not satisfying. I think we have improved a lot since then and hopefully we will be more successful in April!”

Indeed, the club has seven of the current German Olympic panel with Jan Schiffer, Niklas Bosserhoff, Malte Hellwig, Lukas Windfeder, Benedikt Furk and Ferdi Weinke all involved.

“We have very good players in each line, really high quality. The variety of many young  and few wise, experienced players is very good for our way of playing.” 

With captain Tobias Matania and club legend Stralkowski coaching, they have lots of know-how while 23- year-old Herzbruch brings that star power but he knows they have to be wary of their FINAL4 opponent.

“I heard from the golden generation of the 1990s that Atlètic were their biggest rivals. Spanish teams are always very good in the offence, strong in their individual skills, waiting for counters.”

“They want to be efficient in our circle and get a quality of chances. We have to prepare in our defence and block those counters. However, the most important thing  is to focus on our qualities and then we will have a really good chance to qualify for the final.”